The Obscure Snapchat-Foursquare Data Deal
Let's dismantle this a little more. In July 2014, Snapchat released a feature called 'Geofilters,' which works by identifying where the user is via their phone's GPS signal. If, for example, a university is holding a graduation ceremony, it could collude with Snapchat to offer the students in attendance that day a special filter on their Snapchat pictures (perhaps a logo with 'Class of 2016' at the bottom-left of the screen). That filter would only be available in that location and on that day; and it's a way for graduates to take a picture and say to their acquaintances 'I'm telling you, I am educated - look, this screenshot proves it.'
Snapchat also makes money through advertising - which is tricky, considering the platform doesn't have a newsfeed which users scroll down. But what it does have are filters. Advertisers can buy custom filters from Snapchat, or design them themselves and pay Snapchat for the right to put them on the app. There are several incentives: for example, people taking pictures with a Coca-Cola label on them are spreading the good word for the company. Moreover, brands are able to shoehorn their way into people's memories. If a user is in a shopping centre and takes a picture of their new shoes with a Nike Geofilter available at that particular mall, Nike's branding becomes 5% of what the person remembers of that day. It's all very clever and creepy and so forth. But the deal with Foursquare is what we're looking at now.
|Jameson's was the first alcohol brand to run a US-wide Geofilter campaign with Snapchat - img: Adweek|
One thing that's a little more opaque is exactly what kind of data Snapchat (and the advertisers for whom they cater) are going to be getting access to; and, indeed, how it's going to be used. They're certainly going to expand the amount of mapping data they can use, allowing advertisers running Geofilter campaigns to target more specific locations; like a certain Nike shop, rather than the entire shopping centre in which it's housed. It's akin to the shift from old TV to High-Definition in that sense, and gives advertisers a more accurate picture of who's going where and how often. As Foursquare's chief revenue officer said last year: 'If you think about where mobile advertising is going, the Holy Grail is driven by location.'
However, it gets more interesting when we consider the fact that this new data is going to allow advertisers to build more extensive profiles on their target audience. If Nike can now accurately see where their potential customers are going by looking at the now-more-accurate location data of Snapchat's Geofilters, they might be able to see these same target customers are actually going to Puma shops on a regular basis. In other words, they're fraternizing with the enemy! Nike would then be able to adjust its targeting of advertising, not just on Snapchat but across the Web - for example, they could begin shooting at certain demographics a larger volume of Nike ads on Facebook - in order to reel customers back into buying their shoes.
The move is more complicated than it might seem at first; and it will probably lead to things we haven't considered yet. Nonetheless, the wheels are in motion; and it means the continuation along certain roads which both Foursquare and Snapchat have been taking for a while now. If you want to protect your data, it's probably best not to use Geofilters - especially if they're themed around a certain brand. But, when all is said and done, and considering the vast amounts of personal data we've already given away in these complex and increasingly obscure moves by the higher forces of social media advertising, what's this new level of sophistication in the grand scheme of things? Not much. The story remains the same.
James has a Bachelor’s degree in History and wrote his dissertation on beef and protest. His heroes list ranges from Adele to Noam Chomsky: inspirations he’ll be invoking next year when he begins a Master’s degree in London. Follow him @Songbird_James
The Obscure Snapchat-Foursquare Data Deal Reviewed by James Stannard on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 Rating: